Do you have the mental toughness, strength of character and tough as nails resolve to survive when a crisis strikes and your plans must change? Let's find out as we look at 5 simple ways to increase your “Survival IQ.”
Lessons from the Marines...
My husband recently detailed for me the rigorous regimen a Marine Scout / Sniper Cadet has to endure to be equipped for the field. I was amazed at what these men endure! But when all the agonies of the training are over, about 50% of the original number of men have the sweet satisfaction of knowing how much more they are capable of beyond the limits they thought they had. So what does that have to do with you? Well, we all have our comfort zones and self-imposed limits. But how often do we push ourselves to step outside of them....on purpose? Here are some tips to help you increase your survivability taken from this specialized training:
Intentionally Push Your limits...
It is good to be pushed to your limits. Then you know what they are and you also know what you can overcome. This is valuable knowledge.
How often do you choose the easy way or the path of least resistance? I’ll always remember my brother’s wrestling coach who drilled into him the idea that there is no gain with out pain. I heard it and took it to heart, too. Why do we hail the Olympic athletes so profusely? Because they represent lives that are dedicated to breaking the limits. We admire their discipline from afar, but how many of us emulate it? If you want to grow in your ability to survive any situation, as far as it depends on you, that is, you must learn to push your limits. It can be something as simple as snatching up one of your kids with a backpack on and seeing how far you can run with them before you fall exhausted to the ground. It could be seeing how long you can do without something you think you need to survive. (Obviously, not water or basic nutrients.) Identify your limitations and purpose to break through them.
Do Things You Don't Want to Do
Doing things you don’t want to do for long durations develops an ability to turn off the voice that says, “I don’t wanna,” and tune into the one that says, “I can do this!” instead.
The root out of which “I don’t wanna” grows is laziness. Laziness never accomplishes anything and carries condemnation onto the person who is paralyzed by it. Aesop’s The Ant and the Cricket tells a woeful tale of a cricket who sang all summer while the ant was storing up for winter. You can imagine each of their conditions when winter came. Industry and perseverance are the character qualities this children’s tale was meant to encourage. It is hard to do what we don’t want to do. Some folks go to a job every day they don’t want to go to because they have to - this is survival training! As a child I had to work on our farm on Saturdays and summer days when all my friends were cavorting at the local swimming hole or otherwise having some kind of recreation together. It was H.A.R.D. But I can’t tell you how many times I have been grateful for the work ethic and spirit of excellence wrought into my character from those long hard days. It has served me well! And it has served my family and others who have needed help over the years well. Because I can happily say “Yes” when help is needed for grunge work that nobody else wants to do.
Enduring forced withdrawal from everything comfortable makes you uncomfortable with what’s comfortable. You now have an awareness that your comfort is not the necessity you thought it was.
I was blessed to be able to spend a season in a Burmese refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. These precious people had run for their lives over the mountains between Burma and Thailand with only what they could carry, which often was a child or two. No comforts of life whatsoever. Eating only what could be found along the way. Some were able to grab a small bag of rice, but that was the exception. They were welcomed by the Thai government into camps that they had to build with the resources available from the surrounding jungle. Help was sent for the obtaining of water pumps. Food was still scarce. Joy was everywhere. Yes, I said JOY was everywhere. You never stepped into a more peaceful and purposeful environment than one of these refugee camps. Oh, bad things happened there, but I’m talking about a peace that passes understanding. Their lives had been reduced to essentials only and without the distractions of “normal life”, they were able to focus on the enduring things that really mattered: family, friends and faith. That is why, every morning, I was awakened to the most beautiful wake-up call ever: voices singing praises to God. I always recommend for people, when they have a desire and the ability, to take a trip to somewhere where you would be uncomfortable. To a different culture. To a poverty or disaster stricken area. You will soon learn what is essential and what is not. And you will be liberated.
Live in the Moment
Being cut off from those you love just binds them more tightly to your heart. Nothing like doing without to enhance appreciation!
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is really true. I was recently challenged by a quip on Facebook which said, “Don’t be a person who only appreciates what you have after it is gone.” Oh, to be able to look around us and see the value of the treasures we are surrounded by is such a gift! And honestly, these days, I just don’t like to be anywhere by myself. I want to be where my loved ones are, doing as much life as possible with them and sharing joys as well as challenges and making memories. I wouldn’t recommend leaving home for a long trip to test this theory, but if you are someone who has to take business trips or be away from home for other reasons, may I challenge you to count the blessings you are leaving behind and stir up a hunger and passion to return to these gifts with more fervency than ever to seize the day with them? These gifts are our touchstones in an ever-changing world, the pull of ‘north’ on our heart’s compass.
Being confronted with ever changing challenges makes one eager to learn the lessons to be gleaned from each situation so you can move on.
For every season there is a purpose or, to rhyme, a reason. When I look back over my life at the hard challenges I have been brought through, I can see where my character was challenged, stretched and grown. I can see changes wrought in how I look at or think about things. I can see a growth in my ability to quickly forgive and move on or extend grace to someone who is immature or irritating, realizing they are a work in progress. Those Marine Corps cadets would be moved on to a new challenge when their sergeants saw that they had acquired the necessary skills, attitudes, or intuitions needed for survival. But the ultimate goal of the training goes beyond survival to thriving: accomplishing objectives in the midst of a survival situation. Look around at the challenges and trials you are currently in. How can you be growing? What needs to be changed in your outlook or attitude? What skills do you need to add to your skill set? For me, I always ask God about these things and get my answers from Him. It is an awesome and wonder-filled moment to look back after a huge trial and realize that you are not the same person you were before that trial. You are now more equipped for the next challenge that will surely be around the bend. You haven’t just survived, but you’ve taken ground! Mission accomplished!